By Linda Hayes
“Whether you’re looking through glass or open doors, the view cuts across the entire landscape and you can see from one side of Aspen to another,” says Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, scientist, humanitarian and philanthropist, whose work as founder and director of the Columbia Lighthouse Project is helping to lower the suicide rate. Posner and her husband, renowned macroeconomist hedge fund manager David Gerstenhaber, find peace in their 15,000-square-foot, nine-bedroom home set on a gently rolling 40-acre mesa dotted with ponds and teeming with wildlife.
“When we’re there, we spend so much time just walking from inside to outside and staring at that kind of transcendent beauty,” says Kelly. “It’s therapeutic.”
In its original, more modest incarnation, a five-bedroom, brick-sided house, views of the untouched wilderness of the Lenado Valley were strangely neglected. “People used to call it the house where the garages have the best view in Aspen,” she says, laughing. “We envisioned a glass house that worked synergistically with the outdoors and brought it inside.”
To help them in their quest for total transformation, the couple enlisted Aspen architecture firm Rowland+Broughton, known for a clean, fresh aesthetic that addresses the client’s lifestyle needs while working in harmony with the surrounding natural environment. “We took the house down to the foundation, effectively flipping the front door from one side to another and completely changing access from the road,” explains R+B principal Sarah Broughton. “It really opened it up to the full 360-degree views.”
Within a series of glass pavilions, interior spaces were designed with custom door-to-ceiling sliding glass wall panels that create a seamless connection to the outdoors, allowing fresh mountain air and the sounds and scents of nature to waft through when they’re open. “My husband knew that there’s nothing I like better than as much double-height glass as was humanly possible,” notes Kelly. “At any given moment you might see a herd of elk running through the property. It feels like you’re living outside.”
On the main upper level of the home, the front entry is flanked by a private master suite and family wing, connected by several large communal gathering spaces on one side, and a string of bedrooms for the couple’s four children and guests on the other. From the family room and the main living room, both of which look straight out to the Aspen ski mountains and Roaring Fork Valley, one can see straight through to the aptly called Lenado room on the other side of the home. “The whole living area opens in a very surreal way,” says Kelly.
Complementing the home’s singular interior palette–a calming combination of porcelain tile
flooring, espresso-toned, stained-oak doors and cabinetry, and glass and steel detailing–New York interior designer Andrew Sheinman of Pembrooke & Ives and his team organized a relaxed furniture plan, which included many custom pieces. “We aligned the furnishings in context with the surroundings, using a lot of organics and natural dyes,” he says. “With so much glass in the house, it creates a barrier-free situation in terms of the visual to the nature outside.”
The family spends a few months a year at the house, which David, president and founder of Argonaut Capital Management, wryly points out is “not enough.” In contrast to summer, when everything from reflecting pools and waterfalls to broad terraces and patios for entertaining and dining draw everyone outside, winters are enhanced by indoor attributes. The ambience imbued by flickering fireplaces, the spa-like nature of the master bathroom, which has unobstructed views of peaceful, snow-filled fields and ski slopes from the freestanding tub, and the possibility of a massage in the dedicated treatment room all combine to provide a true respite for these hard-working New Yorkers.
“It was an inspirational house to design,” says David. “Coming from our busy lifestyle, it gives us peace of mind when we’re there.” “To build a house that encompasses the spirit of the place so beautifully is simply amazing,” adds Kelly. “It takes you away.”